Center receives Early Reading First grant for literacy enhancement program


On September 22, 2009, the Center was awarded a three-year grant totaling $3.5 million from the United States Department of Education’s Early Reading First program. As part of the DOE’s “Good Start, Grow Smart” initiative, this program was created to address the growing concern that many of our nation’s children begin kindergarten without the necessary foundation to fully benefit from formal school instruction. Federal funds were awarded competitively to local programs that showed they will enhance young children’s language and cognitive development by providing high-quality instruction and ongoing professional development based on scientific reading research.

The Center was the only early education program in Florida to receive an Early Reading First grant. The federal grant will fund the Center’s Literacy Enhancement for Early Readers (LEER; or “to read” in Spanish) program designed to improve oral language, phonics, print awareness, and alphabetic knowledge for students in existing preschool programs. In delivering the LEER model, the Center is partnering with the Miami-Dade County Public School System, Miami-Dade College LAB School North, St. Albans Child Enrichment Center, University of Miami, and Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL), a nonprofit education research and development organization. This will result in a community based effort that will both emphasize literacy for English language learners and will provide smooth transitions for children into kindergarten.